Mummers' guard of honour for acclaimed model maker
Published: 11 Oct 2012 13:000 comments
It was the first ever guard of honour formed at a funeral in the county for anyone connected with mumming and it was in tribute to the talented work of Gordon who built all of the mumming models that form the mumming exhibition at the Aughakillymaude Mummers' Centre, near Derrylin.
One of the county's best-known artists, Gordon passed away peacefully at his home, Drumclay House, last Thursday morning, Thursday, October 4, aged 76 years. He had been in good form just prior to his passing and he had enjoyed attending a number of local events and had been writing up to the night before he died.
A popular figure in the community, who became one of Fermanagh's adopted sons, he was originally from York. He went to York College of Art where he met his wife Toni and they lived in Leeds before moving to the county in 1963 with their daughter Rachael. Their other three children, Matthew, Katy and Jason were born in Fermanagh.
Gordon took up a position as an art teacher at the Collegiate Grammar School, Enniskillen where he remained until taking retirement at the age of 55 to take up professional model making full time. Remaining as lasting testimonies to his talent, his models are not only housed in Fermanagh County Museum, Enniskillen and the Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, but his widely appreciated work is in museums in Ireland, the UK and the US. His interest in the mummers' tradition is reflected in the unique exhibition in Aughakillymaude Mummers' Centre, where up to 17 life size sculpture models, reflecting the main characters in mumming in the county, were built by the artist. The display is acknowledged for its stand out factor and there is no exhibition anywhere like it in Ireland or the UK. He is also remembered for the traditional wickermen that he made.
For Gordon, Fermanagh was his dream place; he was a keen fisherman and could not imagine being anywhere else. He earned the right to call himself a Fermanagh man and knew every nook and cranny of the county; he loved the people and he was very much into the environment.
An intrepid traveller, he travelled worldwide with his wife Toni and he wrote Travellers' Tales for the Impartial Reporter for many years.
Friends were extended a welcome to the family home last Sunday, when they were able to pay their respects to Gordon, a much-loved husband, father, and grandfather to Natasha, Aoife, and Sean Gordon and brother of Michael.
There was beautiful weather during the day, when people were out in the garden, the workshop and in the house - fondly remembering Gordon, who was reflected everywhere in the things that he had made and built.
At the ceremony which followed at his home on Monday, Fr. Noel McGahan, a friend of the family officiated, and Gordon's sons Matthew and Jason and daughters Rachael and Katy spoke about their father, and musician Gaby McArdle sang and played. One of John's oldest friends John Maxwell spoke about his friendship with Gordon, and a former teaching colleague, Roy Cathcart shared some stories from the Collegiate School years.
Helen Lanigan Wood spoke about his work for the museum and Bryan Gallagher also shared some wonderful stories. Gordon's wife Toni thanked everyone for coming and for helping the family to make it such a beautiful day.
The sun was shining as Rachael, Matthew, Katy and Jason, joined by Rachael's partner Frank and Katy's husband Tom carried his wicker coffin, bearing autumn leaves, through the mummers' guard of honour. A Scottish lament, The Dark Island was played by a piper.
The leader of the guard of honour was Jim Ledwith and each mummer was dressed exactly the same and brought a staff. A mummer's hat was presented to Toni as a memento to Gordon, who was bade a fond farewell as he departed for Roselawn Crematorium in Belfast, accompanied by his family.
The Johnsons are very appreciative of all the support received, and for all their good friends who have been there for both Toni and Gordon.
There were family flowers only, and donations in lieu if desired are to Horizon West Children's Hospice. The funeral arrangements were by funeral directors, W.T. Morrison, Enniskillen.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
Get more stories from our Roundup section
12 Dec 2013 08:30
A 27-year-old taxi driver thought he would just “batter on” rather than lose business while waiting for his operator’s licence to arrive, Fermanagh Court has been told.
12 Dec 2013 08:17 • Sarah Saunderson
Police in Fermanagh are investigating an incident where a fuel tanker was reversed into the front of the former Quinn premises in the Ballyconnell Road area of Derrylin last night and set alight.
11 Dec 2013 21:30
The PSNI, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) and St. John's Ambulance have joined together to deliver a hard-hitting message during a road safety demonstration.
11 Dec 2013 17:15
Police investigating a complaint about noise in the early hours of a Sunday morning found 40 people drinking outside a pub and another dozen drinking inside.
11 Dec 2013 13:15
A 48-year-old patient at the South West Acute Hospital had to be restrained by five members of staff when she became violent and began shouting obscenities, Fermanagh Court has heard.
11 Dec 2013 10:33 • Sarah Saunderson
A victim of clerical sexual abuse in Fermanagh has called for an independent public inquiry into child abuse in the Church in Northern Ireland in light of this week's reports by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.
10 Dec 2013 21:45
A 22-year-old man has been fined £400 and banned from driving for 12 months after the behaviour of his front-seat passenger attracted the attention of police.
10 Dec 2013 18:30
A 23-year-old mother who spent two months in prison accused of child cruelty has been released after the charges against her were withdrawn.
10 Dec 2013 16:00 • Lily Dane
Enniskillen Rotary Club’s Santa Mobile is gearing up for this year’s fundraising journey in the run up to Christmas.
10 Dec 2013 13:30
A 63-year-old farmer has been fined £1,000 for polluting a stream with silage effluent.
10 Dec 2013 10:25
About 170 people in Fermanagh suffered power cuts during last Thursday’s storm, NIE (Northern Ireland Electricity) has revealed.
10 Dec 2013 08:30
A 22-year-old man can’t recall punching a stranger in the face and fracturing his jaw, Fermanagh Court has been told.
9 Dec 2013 21:45
Two local boat owners have been prosecuted for leaving their motor cruisers moored at the Round ‘O’ public jetty in Enniskillen for longer than 48 hours.
9 Dec 2013 18:45
Pupils from Ballinamallard Primary School have won a poster competition to highlight road safety.
9 Dec 2013 15:30
A 50-year-old farmer seen staggering across a road, getting into a vehicle and starting the engine, had no intention of driving, Fermanagh Court has been told.
9 Dec 2013 12:50 • Editorial Department
Out of all the seasons, driving in the winter requires the most care and preparation.
9 Dec 2013 08:30 • Editorial Department
Opportunities were afforded for people to ‘find out more about tracing their family history and the history of their local community’ at a recent Family History Fair in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.
8 Dec 2013 21:30 • Editorial Department
Police launched their Christmas campaign against drinking and driving with a zero tolerance message of: “Not even one - because just one drink can kill.”
8 Dec 2013 18:30 • Meadhbh Monahan
Q: What is ‘entrepreneurship education’ and how is it being fostered in South West College? - Yvonne South West College is the only Northern Irish member of the Gazelle Group; a recognisable cluster of entrepreneurial colleges across the UK.
8 Dec 2013 14:30 • Editorial Department
A 32-year-old pregnant mother of three has lost her baby while in prison awaiting trial for the burglary of the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.